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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting : 7th September 2011

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning

 

The Proposed Publication of a Statutory Notice to change the nature of the Specialist Resource Base at St Illtyd Primary School

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To advise Cabinet of the statutory processes undertaken in relation to proposals to change the nature of the Specialist Resource Base at St Illtyd Primary School, and to seek approval from Cabinet to publish a Statutory Notice to this effect.

Recommendations

1.             To publish a Statutory Notice to change the current Resource Base for pupils with Moderate Learning Difficulties to a Resource Base for pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             A change in demand for specialist provision requires the Council to respond by changing the nature of current provision in order to meet its statutory obligations.

 

Background

2.             Within the Vale of Glamorgan there is currently a range of Tier 2 provision for children and young people with Additional Learning Needs [ALN].  This provision consists of specialist resource bases, formerly known as units, for children with speech and language difficulties, hearing impairment, behavioural difficulties and Moderate Learning Difficulties [MLD].  These are based in mainstream schools, and allow for children to be taught in small specialist classes, with opportunities for inclusion in mainstream activities.  Where good progress has been made, pupils move out of the provision and into mainstream.

3.             In relation to MLD, there are currently 4 specialist provisions, based at St Illtyd primary, Fairfield Primary and Jenner Park Primary (2 classes).  Over the past year, numbers in two of these provisions (St Illtyd Primary and Fairfield Primary have reduced significantly.  This has been due to an increase in parental preference for mainstream provision.

4.             The MLD resource bases can cater for up to ten pupils.  The two classes at Jenner Park are full to capacity, but in September 2011, there will only be one pupil at St Illtyd Primary and four pupils at Fairfield Primary.

5.             Over recent years there has been an increase in numbers of children with a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  Within the Vale of Glamorgan there is a range of support for pupils with ASD, including attendance at Ashgrove Special School and support from the ASD Outreach Team for over 100 pupils attending mainstream schools.  However, there is currently no Tier 2 provision for pupils with ASD.

Relevant Issues and Options

6.             It was initially proposed that two of the current MLD resource bases (St Illtyd Primary and Fairfield Primary) should be changed into Tier 2 ASD provision.  The two MLD classes based at Jenner Park Primary would be retained. 

7.             A report was submitted to Cabinet on 2nd February and approval was given for the consultation process to commence

8.             An informal consultation took place from February to April.  During this time, meetings were held with school staff, governors and parents at the two schools. Individual meetings were held with any parents who had particular queries or concerns.

9.             As a result of the informal consultation, it became clear that the existing class was still required at Fairfield Primary.  At St Illtyd Primary, on the other hand, there would be only one remaining pupil in the class in September, for whom individual arrangements could be made.

10.        It was therefore decided to proceed only with the proposal to change the nature of the provision at St Illtyd Primary.  A period of formal consultation took place from 15th June to 20th July, including a meeting held on 4th July.  Letters were sent to all interested parties (see Appendix 1).  No responses were obtained. The Formal Consultation Document is attached at Appendix 2.

11.        In order to proceed, it is now necessary to publish a Statutory Notice, with a view to opening the new ASD provision at St Illtyd Primary as soon as approval has been given by the Welsh Government.  It is hoped that the changes will be implemented in January 2012.

12.        The new resource base will cater for up to eight pupils at KS1 and 2, and will be staffed by one specialist teacher and two Learning Support Assistants (LSAs).  Pupils will be placed at the provision through the weekly SEN Panel. 

13.        The resource base will cater for children in mainstream schools who, despite a high level of support, are making little progress, and require a smaller, specialist environment, but who benefit from opportunities for inclusion in mainstream.  In addition, pupils who are currently attending Ashgrove may also be considered for placement.

14.        The Head of Ashgrove has been working closely with the Pupil Support Service in the development of this proposal, and the Outreach Service at Ashgrove School will play an important role in supporting the new provision.

15.        Following approval by Cabinet, a statutory notice will be published in keeping with Welsh Government guidelines on consultation.

16.        Staff currently working in the MLD provision may wish to be considered for the new role.  In this case, training will be provided.  However, it should be recognised that working with children with ASD can be challenging, and other options may need to be considered.

 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

17.        There will be an increased cost in relation to the establishment of the provision, in that an additional Learning Support Assistant [LSA] will be required for the class.  The cost of an additional LSA will be £15,262 to £17,661.  However, many of the young people currently have a high level of 1:1 support within mainstream, and therefore a saving will be made in the LSA budget.

18.        Some adaptations will need to be made to the classroom and surrounding areas to ensure that they are appropriate for pupils with ASD.  This will cost approximately £11K.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

19.        All children and young people are entitled to an appropriate education.

Crime and Disorder Implications

20.        There are no crime and disorder implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

21.        These proposals will benefit children and young people with Additional Learning Needs.

Corporate/Service Objectives

22.        C1011: To improve outcomes for learners deemed to be vulnerable due to a range of factors affecting their general wellbeing.

23.        IS/A [PIAP 2.11]: Realign current tier two provision to meet challenging needs.

Policy Framework and Budget

24.        This is a matter for Executive Decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

25.        Full consultation will take place in line with statutory processes.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

26.        Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

None.

 

Contact Officer

Caroline Rees

Head of Additional Learning Needs

 

Officers Consulted

Bob Grover, Pupils Support Service Manager

 

Responsible Officer:

Bryan Jeffreys

Director of Learning and Development